The Myth of the Writing Space

To write you don’t need a quiet office lined with cherry-scented book shelves, an Aeron Miller chair, a hand-made wooden desk topped with inspirational quotes, or eight hours of uninterrupted silence.

I’ve signed two book contracts in my writing career. After I signed each one, I thought the same thing:

Holy crap! Is that enough time to write a book?

Having the time to write was less important than having a reason to write. Turns out being contractually obligated to write is a very good motivator.

For my first book, WEARING, my editor if I could write the book in four months (all the travels had already been completed); I lied and told him yes. The truth was that I had no idea.

My writing space was awesome. Annie had painted my office, lined it with bookshelves, and bought a desk.I worked three ten hour days at the day job. Writing was about the math. The book was set to be 65,000 words, which meant on my two writing days I had to write a combined 4,000 words. Often I wrote more per day and snuck in extra writing sessions.

We didn’t have kids. WE DIDN’T HAVE KIDS…YET! The first draft was about 80,000 words and I was done in three-and-a-half months.

For my second book, EATING, I had twelve months to travel to eight countries on four continents, research, write, and edit. 12 months! And two kids!

While traveling, I fell asleep each night taking notes in hotels. Some of these hotels had no electricity or air conditioning. Sometimes I had a stomach bug or jet lag.

I wrote while traveling on big airplanes and small airplanes across the United States, over the moonlit Andes, and across oceans.

I wrote while sitting on the floor in airports with no wifi. Once I wrote until I missed my flight.

I wrote in my home office while being visited regularly by my three-year-old daughter.

I wrote in a friends office on Ball State’s campus. (Thanks, Cathy Day!) One time Cathy walked in to her office on a day and time that she normally wasn’t there, and there I sat. She nearly had a heart attack.

I wrote in another friend’s office on Ball State’s campus. (Thanks Melinda Messineo!)

I wrote on weekends. I wrote to 3AM.

The space was far less comfortable and the pressure far greater than when I wrote WEARING.

I wrote whenever I had time to write regardless of where I was. If I would’ve waited for the writing conditions (the space, the humidity, the appropriate access to chocolate and coffee) to be perfect, I would’ve never completed a book from start to finish in under 12 months.

Writing EATING taught me that . . .

The only space you need to write is between your heart and your head.

If you’re a writer, write no matter where you are.

Barbara Marker says:

Very well said. You had the inspiration and desire and no time for excuses. Our best wishes to you and your family. Good luck with your future plans. It is fun to watch your children’s progress.

Kelsey says:

Thanks, Barbara!

CathyShouse says:

I really enjoyed this. Thanks for the inspiration!

Kelsey says:

You are welcome Cathy. So often I think we look for any excuse not to write. For instance right now, I’m on facebook!!!

Rebecka Vigus says:

Finally someone said what I feel. Although given time constraints I can write a novel in 21 days. It will need much editing and reworking, but it can be done.

Let your voice be heard!